The Transformative Power Of Gratitude Diaries, How you can use them to Change Your Life
In the fast-paced and often stressful world we all live in, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. All to often we forget to stop and appreciate the beauty and goodness that surround us. The practice of gratitude however, offers a powerful antidote to our "always busy" 🐝modern lives. Gratitude diaries, in particular, have gained popularity for their ability to bring about positive changes in our lives, if we ourselves make the commitment to take some time each day to practice "an attitude of gratitude".
The Psychology or Science Behind Gratitude Diaries
Gratitude diaries are firmly rooted in the principles of positive psychology = "the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning". The psychology behind these diaries is based on the idea that regularly acknowledging and recording things you are grateful for can shift your perspective from negativity to positivity.
So when you are consciously writing down the things you're grateful for, you're actually training your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Then the more you do this, over time the practice can lead to a more optimistic and grateful mindset, which can lead to "looking on the bright side of life" more than focusing on the things you cannot change.
Practicing gratitude effects our brains by stimulating the production of dopamine (a chemical messenger (neurostransmitter) that works in the brain. It helps nerve cells send messages to each other. When dopamine is released in the brain, we feel a sense of temporary pleasure) and serotonin (another messenger which creates a long-lasting feeling of happiness or wellbeing), often referred to as the "feel-good neurotransmitters. These chemicals play a vital role in regulating mood and emotions. By regularly expressing gratitude in a diary, we essentially train our brains to produce more of these beneficial chemicals!
Researchers have discovered that expressing gratitude can also trigger the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for strengthening social bonds and creating feelings of trust and connection. So practicing gratitude not only improves our relationship with ourselves, but also enhances our ability to build and maintain meaningful connections with others.
*BrainTap is a great way to practice mindfulness and reduce the stress which can ignite pessimism. BrainTap’s technology has been tested to create the perfect symmetry of sound, music and guided visualization for ultimate brainwave training and relaxation. You can relax, reboot and strengthen your brain, improve your sleep and reduce your stress–all of which are great encouragements for optimistic thinking and wellness.
I use BrainTap as another tool in my toolbox to keep myself healthy and my brain sharp, and in a happy grateful state. There are some great Gratitude sessions to try: Gratitude Acceptance and Clarity, Gratitude Process or the Grateful Harvest Meditation - just search Gratitude once you have the app and enjoy!
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A Few Benefits of Keeping a Gratitude Diary
A gratitude diary isn't just a collection of positive affirmations; it's a tool that can bring about a greater sense of contentment and encourages you to see the glass as half full, which can have a profound impact on your attitudes and overall perspective of life.
A gratitude diary helps you become aware of all the goodness in your life.
Improved Mental Health = Improved Physical Health
Research has shown that keeping a gratitude diary can lead to reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. By focusing more on a habit of gratitude, people learn to reframe their thinking and concentrate of the positive aspects of their lives. Our brains have a natural tendency to dwell on negativity, a phenomenon known as the negativity bias. It is an evolutionary survival mechanism that once served a purpose but can now hinder our well-being. In our day and age we don't always have to be on alert for dangers in the wild to be able to survive and provide for our families. Of course we have a new set of issues nowadays, but our bodies do not have to constantly be in fight or flight mode. By consciously redirecting our attention towards gratitude, we counteract this bias and retrain our brains to notice and appreciate the good things around us. This shift in perspective can significantly improve mental well-being.
This change in perspective now flows on to your body, when we have taken the time to acknowledge all the things we are grateful for, it activates the relaxation response in our bodies, leading to decreased levels of stress and anxiety, this calms down our heart rate and just puts us in a more relaxed state which of course has a positive impact on our overall physical health.
Gratitude diary-keeping can also improve relationships. When you express gratitude toward others, it strengthens social bonds by making people feel appreciated and valued. You may realise how grateful you are for someone in your life, record it in your diary and then decide to show that person how much you appreciate them. This in turn has a flow on effect, creating a more positive and supportive environment in both personal and professional relationships.
Gratitude diaries can help individuals build resilience by encouraging them to find silver lining in challenging situations. When you're able to see the good even in difficult times, you become more emotionally resilient and better equipped to cope with problems or life changing events as they arise.
Setting the Scene for your Gratitude Practice.
It's a nice idea to "set the scene" or make your Gratitude Diary writing a wee ritual. Choose a comfy place in your house that you love, with all the things you love around you, maybe some candles or crystals and I like to set my diffuser going, so I've also got the benefits of essential oils enhancing my practice even more. Below are a couple of "gratitude" diffuser blends, that I LOVE - but do bear in mind, Aromatherapy is a very personalized practice and everyone smells blends differently so use the oils you are drawn too, or that you love - or maybe an essential oil related to your starsign!
How to Start and Maintain a Gratitude Diary
Where do you start? This is a powerful practice that has the potential to reshape your outlook on life. The key is consistency and intention.
1️⃣ Choose a journal or notebook that resonates with you. Find something that feels special and inspiring, where you can freely express your gratitude. (See my recommendations below) It could be a beautiful leather-bound journal or a simple notebook. I like to treat myself to something absolutely beautiful, which makes me even more grateful every time I pick it up. The important thing is that it feels personal to you.
2️⃣ Next, set aside a specific time each day to write in your gratitude diary. It could be in the morning to start your day on a positive note or in the evening to reflect on the blessings of the day. Consistency is key, so try to make it a non-negotiable part of your routine. I add it into my morning practice along with my Oracle Card practice, it's such an important part of my day, and if for some reason I skip it, I really notice the difference.
3️⃣ As you write, be specific and detailed about what you are grateful for. Instead of simply jotting down generic statements like, "I'm grateful for my family," delve deeper and get into the actual feeling or emotion, reflect on specific actions, qualities, or moments you appreciate about them. FEEL IT! This level of detail and feeling will help cultivate an even deeper sense of gratitude.
4️⃣ Don't limit yourself to big, life-changing moments. Embrace the small, everyday things, that often go unnoticed. It could be the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, a kind gesture from a stranger, or the beautiful colors of a sunset. Get into the feeling... hear the colors 😂. Fully immerse yourself in the positive emotions. By appreciating the little things, you'll find that gratitude permeates every aspect of your life if you let it.
Be open and flexible, it's not about creating a rigid routine, rather it's about adapting it to suit you and make it a practice you look forward to and love. Make it your own and enjoy the process, use beautiful pens, or pencils, do drawings, in it, stick in little keepsakes. Why not!
Gratitude Quote Prompts.
Grab my Gratitude Prompts - save them to your phone to have a look at and get inspired by everyday as you begin your gratitude practice or add them as a wallpaper to your phone so you can get inspired all day long!
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"What consumes your mind, controls your life"
As the saying goes, "What consumes your mind, controls your life." So why not let gratitude consume our minds and dictate the course of our lives?
Gratitude Diaries are a simple yet transformative practice. By recording the things you're thankful for, you can shift your focus towards positivity, leading to improved mental health, stronger relationships, and a more resilient mindset.
The ripple effect of gratitude can even create a more loving and harmonious social environment which enriches our personal lives and in turn our communities ♻️
The benefits of gratitude make it a valuable habit to cultivate, why not start your gratitude diary today and unlock the life-changing power of gratitude.
If you do decide to embark on your own Gratitude Diary journey, I would highly recommend the Giving Thanks Diaries. I have just received my new diary ready for 2024, I love the aesthetic of these diaries, they are beautifully designed with a cloth bound cover and absolutely divine artwork all the way through. It also includes inspirational quotes, and check in's via the moon. It has a section for your New Moon intentions each month then another check in to see how your intentions are coming along with the Full Moon. I love this practice of being in tune with the Moon. It's a way of checking in with yourself, seeing how you are going and keeping yourself on track - and what better way! 🌑
Lovingly created by Melanie Spears these diaries are more than just a book, it's a daily companion, a confidante, and a sacred space for growth and healing.
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Disclaimer: The opinions and information presented in this blog post are solely the author's own findings, experiences, and research. This content should not be considered as medical or health advice. It is intended as a reflection on using a Gratitude Diary and is meant to encourage independent thinking and self-exploration. The author's aim is to inspire readers to develop their own perspectives on the subject matter and to make informed decisions that align with their unique needs and beliefs. Readers are strongly encouraged to consult with qualified professionals for any medical or health-related concerns. Ultimately, this blog post is a platform for personal thoughts and experiences and should be taken as such.